Aimee’s Pretty Palate: Don’t Be Jelly


A little-known fact about me: In high school, I held the state title for my mayhaw jelly. Random, I know. I was vice president of our 4-H club, and while I did not show cows or sheep as most people assume when they hear the words 4-H, my record books (do they still call them that?) were submitted from the Leadership categories.  One summer, likely because there was no one else, I was selected to compete at Short Course hosted by LSU. I was assigned jelly making under the Horticulture Use category. In full disclosure, I must credit our county agents with finetuning and teaching me how to make my award-winning jelly, but after two years of competing, I took home top honors. The fruit processing plant in the small town that I grew up even made gold foil labels for my jelly jars adorned with “Aimee’s Best” to commemorate my accomplishment.

If you’ve never had mayhaw jelly, you are missing out. As its name would suggest, mayhaws are available from mid-April through early May. They are a small, round reddish fruit and make the most delicious jelly, although the juice can also be used for syrups and wine.

Last year, I sought out to relive those jelly “glory days,” as my husband calls them,  and make some jelly. I stumbled upon a lady by the name of Evelyn Davis in Denham Springs selling the mayhaw fruit. Turns out, Mrs. Davis sits on the Louisiana Mayhaw Association board as its current vice president and is—get this—the current winner of the association’s jelly cooking contest. She invited me into her “canning kitchen” to chat about all things mayhaw jelly, and while she did not share her recipe, she did mention she increases the juice ratio to ensure the beautiful red coloring of her jelly. She believes that’s what earned her first place.

As spring approaches and in honor of the mayhaws ripening, I’m sharing how to make jelly this month. If mayhaws are not your thing, spring also brings us strawberry season, so try your hand at the Strawberry Lemonade Marmalade. Once you’ve recovered from that, it’s time for blueberry picking season. We go blueberry picking almost every year, and there’s an entire section on my blog for all things blueberry recipe related: biscuits, scones, French toast and of course, jelly.

Happy jelly making, friends! Oh yes you can can.


MAYHAW JELLY

Ingredients:
3 lbs. fully ripe mayhaws
1 (1.75-oz.) box Sure-Jell pectin
5 cups granulated sugar
4 (8-oz.) half-pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use. DON’T BOIL. Wash lids and set them aside.
Remove stems and blossom ends from mayhaws; place in large saucepan. Add water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gently crush cooked mayhaws.
Place several layers of damp cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl.  Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently.
Measure exactly 4 cups prepared juice into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Gradually stir in pectin. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can’t be stirred down. Add all of the sugar and stir to dissolve. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam. Ladle jam into hot jars, leaving about ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar and apply band until it is fingertip tight.
Place jars on elevated rack in canner/stockpot. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process for 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. If lids spring back, they are not sealed and require additional processing or placement in refrigerator.
Makes 4-6 (8-oz.) jars.

BLUEBERRY JAM

Ingredients:
6½cups fresh blueberries, washed and chopped (about 5 pints whole blueberries)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 (1.75-oz.) box Sure-Jell pectin
5 cups granulated sugar
7 (8-oz.) half-pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
In a large saucepan, combine blueberries and ½ cup water. Add lemon juice and pectin to blueberries. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring mixture to a rolling boil. Add sugar to fruit mixture. Return to a rolling boil, and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle jam into hot jars, leaving about ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar and apply band until it is fingertip tight.
Place jars on elevated rack in canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process for 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. If lids spring back, they are not sealed and require additional processing or placement in refrigerator.
Makes about 7 (8-oz.) jars.

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE MARMALADE

Ingredients:
¼ cup thinly sliced lemon peel (about 2 large)
4 cups crushed strawberries (about 4 lb.)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. pectin
6 cups granulated sugar
7 (8-oz.) half-pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use. DON’T BOIL. Wash lids and set them aside.
Combine lemon peel with water to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and discard liquid and return peel to pan. Add strawberries and lemon juice. Mix. Gradually stir in pectin. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can’t be stirred down. Add all of the sugar and stir to dissolve. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam. Ladle jam into hot jars, leaving about ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar and apply band until it is fingertip tight.
Place jars on elevated rack in canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process for 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. If lids spring back, they are not sealed and require additional processing or placement in refrigerator.
Tip: Use lime peel and lime juice in place of lemon for a strawberry lime marmalade.
Makes about 7 (8-oz.) jars.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at aimeebroussard.com.

There are no comments. Click to add your thoughts!